The German industrial designer Richard Sapper was born in Munich in 1932, where he attended university from 1952 until 1954. By 1956 Richard Sapper was working in the design division of Mercedes Benz. He then went to Milan, where he worked in the practice of Alberto Rosselli and Gio Ponti. Richard Sapper became a designer in the design division of La Rinascente department stores.
From 1958 Richard Sapper worked in the practice of Marco Zanuso, with whom he developed several extremely innovative designs for furnishings, lamps, and electrical appliances. The "Lambda" chair of diecast aluminium was developed for Gavina between 1959 and 1964. For Kartell, Marco Zanuso and Richard Sapper designed a stackable children's chair (Model 4999/S, 1961-64) of pressure-molded polyethelene, which is the first piece of seat furniture to have been made of this material. For Brionvega Marco Zanuso and Richard Sapper designed the "TS502" (1964) cult radio that opens out, and the "Doney" (1964), "Algol" (1965), and "Black Box" (1969) portable televisions. For Siemens they created the "Grillo" telephone in 1966. Richard Sapper and Marco Zanuso collaborated until 1977.
In 1970 Richard Sapper opened a design practice of his own in Stuttgart. In 1972 Richard Sapper designed the high-tech "Tizio" work lamp for Artemide, long a must accessory and not just for design aficionados. Richard Sapper designed numerous objects for Alessi, including "Bollitore", a whistling kettle (1983).
Richard Sapper's designs are executed by B&B Italia, Castelli, Tag Heuer, Italora, Knoll International, Telefunken, and Unifor. In the 1970s, Richard Sapper was a design consultant to Fiat and Pirelli and, from 1980, to IBM. For IBM, Richard Sapper also designed the Thinkpad laptop line.
He has been a visiting lecturer at numerous institutions and, from 1986, a professor at Stuttgart Art Academy.